Short on time but want to go big on flavour? This chicken and rice dish will sort you out.
Food writer Ed Smith makes this chicken and rice recipe once a week, on the night his wife heads out of the house.
“It’s just me and my son, so I usually throw that in front of him and enjoy it myself as well,” he says. A recipe with classic Japanese ingredients like dashi and mirin might seem a bit adventurous for a toddler, but Smith quips his son is “unfortunately a horrific foodie – he’ll eat oysters, and one of his first words was kimchi”.
Whether you’ve got a toddler at home or not, this dish is bursting with flavour and perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Parent and child rice
For the rice:
200g short-grain sushi rice
300ml cold water
2tsp sushi vinegar
For the topping:
1 x 10g instant dashi sachet
250ml just-boiled water
2tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tbsp golden caster sugar
2tbsp neutral cooking oil
2 boneless chicken thighs, skin on (ideally)
½ small onion, finely sliced
4 medium eggs
1. To cook the rice, first measure it into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Stir for 20 seconds, drain through a sieve, return the rice to the pan and repeat the process six times so the water is much less cloudy. Add 300ml of cold water and set on a high heat. As soon as the water boils, stir to ensure the rice is not stuck to the bottom of the pan, then reduce to the lowest heat possible, place a lid on top and simmer for seven to eight minutes. Remove from the heat at the point the water has almost all been absorbed, but the rice is still loose. Stir in the sushi vinegar and place a folded dish towel over the top, leaving just a little gap. Leave for 20 minutes for the rice to steam, finish cooking and also dry out a little, stirring three or four times over that period.
2. As the rice cooks, dissolve the dashi powder for the topping into the just-boiled water. Stir the mirin, soy sauce and sugar into the dashi. Add a little cooking oil to a small, heavy-based saucepan and place over a medium–high heat. Cook the chicken thighs skin-side down for six to eight minutes so the skin is bronzed and about two-thirds of the flesh cooked through. Remove from the pan and chop into bite-size pieces.
3. When the rice is ready, tip half the dashi into a small (18–20cm) omelette or frying pan. Add half of both the chicken and onions and simmer over a medium heat for three to four minutes until the liquid is reduced by a third and the onions are softening.
4. Ensure both chicken and onions are evenly distributed. Lightly beat two of the eggs and pour into the pan, prodding and shuffling so it moves through and around the chicken and onions. Place a lid on top and steam for one minute so the egg is about two-thirds cooked – it should still be a little loose in the middle, as part of the pleasure is in the slipperiness of the egg. Decant half the rice into a bowl and slide the omelette over the top – the dashi will leave the pan first, seasoning the rice as it falls. Repeat (using the remaining dashi, chicken, onions and eggs) for the second portion.
Crave: Recipes Arranged By flavour, To Suit Your Mood And Appetite by Ed Smith is published by Quadrille on May 27, priced £25. Photography by Sam A Harris.